How To Boost Your Immune System
We abuse our bodies by overwhelming them with internal and external stresses, junk foods, alcohol, and environmental toxins. The immune system is the body's main line of defense against germs and infection. It is responsible for fighting bacteria, viruses, parasites, and cancer cells and actively works to remove them from the body. It also targets and neutralizes harmful substances from the environment. Overindulging and exposing our body's to overwhelming levels of stress, suppresses our immune system and leaves us vulnerable to illness and disease.
Let's open the toolbox. First, we need to address unhealthy eating habits. By consuming primarily nutrient-dense foods like colorful fruits (in moderation), vegetables, lean proteins/fish, healthy fats, and whole grains, you're providing your body with the essential fuel it needs to keep your immune system functioning properly. Inflammatory foods that are processed/packaged and loaded with sugar are devoid of nutritional value can reduce immune activity by 50% for up to 5 hours after consumption. Help your immune system out! Limit your sugar intake to 25g per day. This includes natural sugars from fruits and vegetables. Start reading the labels on packaged foods. You'll be shocked how much sugar is packed into that granola bar that was advertised as "healthy." Reduce your alcohol consumption as well. Alcohol floods the body with toxins and burdens the detoxification system because it is literally poison! It may help you relax but it limits immune processes so if you have to drink, drink in moderation.
Next, we need to cut back on stress! I know it's easier said than done but it's vital to find ways to lower your stress levels. Take 10 minutes to breathe in a quiet place, go for a walk or even just close your eyes in your car for a couple of minutes before you walk into your home. High stress leads to elevated cortisol levels which suppress the immune system and increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Give yourself and your immune system a break!
Last but certainly not least, take your vitamins! Vitamin C is the obvious place to start because it supports your immune system's ability to fight infections, viruses, and other pathogens and reduces the duration of illness. Vitamin D helps to prepare your body for a viral attack so increasing your dose during Winter and Spring reduces your risk for contracting that nasty bug your coworker has! Zinc, mixed carotenoid complex, echinacea, and goldenseal all work to repair, stimulate and defend the immune system. If you need help figuring out what doses to take, contact your health care provider for further instruction.
You now have all the tools you need to build a strong immune system and illness barrier. By implementing these simple lifestyle changes, you can be confident that you're doing all you can to keep yourself healthy this season.